Converting VHS to DVD w/o Firewire?

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by fishniw, Nov 11, 2008.

  1. fishniw macrumors regular

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    Jul 29, 2008
    #1
    What I want to do is find a cheap, easy way to capture my old vhs tapes to dvd format. Unfortunately (only in this case) I have the new Macbook which has no firewire port. This eliminates a lot of my options. The only editing I need to do is make menus and break up scenes on iMovie.

    http://www.blackmagic-design.com/products/videorecorder/
    ^ I saw this on another thread but it's $119. Is there anything under this price?

    Thanks
     
  2. ChemiosMurphy macrumors 6502

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    Warminster, PA
    #2
    -Get a DVD/VHS player/burner.
    -Record the VHS onto DVD
    -pop DVD into mac
    -Use MPEGstreamclip to convert it to an MOV file (720*480 standard DV settings)
    -Edit away
    -send to iDVD

    It works ok.

    EDIT* Lethal is right. Compressing it multiple times is not the greatest thing..
     
  3. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #3
    Actually you are compressing it three times and it matters more because VHS is so 'fragile' to begin with. The image quality will deteriorate faster than if the OP started w/a higher quality video format.

    OP,
    Do you have any friends that have computers w/FW that you could borrow to do this?

    Lethal
     
  4. robanga macrumors 68000

    robanga

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    #4
  5. ChemiosMurphy macrumors 6502

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    #5
    I see what you mean. But if you record it onto dvd onto highest quality XP setting, it should look pretty decent because VHS has lesser resolution and the clarity is pretty murky. That's my thinking of getting away with it because I've seen the results of the composite video to USB dongles, and it isn't pretty.
     
  6. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #6
    The VHS tape still goes thru the same amount of compression that a higher quality source would go though. Hypothetically let's say the quality of the VHS image signal is 100 units and that the DVD compression is 10:1. Now your VHS image signal is 10 units. Transcoding into DV, which is 5:1 compression, brings the VHS image signal down to 2 units. Making the finished DVD requires another pass at 10:1 so now the VHS image signal is 0.2 units. Now this oversimplified and there are many other factors to take into consideration, but I was just trying to illustrate the cumulative effect transcoding can have on an image signal. Transcoding is kinda like translating a language. A translation is never exactly like the original, even though it should be close, and the more 'generations' of translations away from the original document you go the less accurate they become. Going from English to German isn't too bad. But going from English to German to Japanese to Arabic is going to get dicey. ;)

    Yeah, going to h.264 is probably fine for web or iPod sized videos, but I wouldn't use it to make archive or master copies though.


    Lethal
     
  7. fishniw thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 29, 2008
    #7
    Yeah, I have two friends that have pros but I have a lot of tapes to do for family members and others. I could be potentially borrowing their computers for weeks and thats obviously they wouldn't like that too much. Ugh, if they had only just put firewire into the new 'books. Will the quality at least be the same using usb albeit slower?

    If that's the best price I can get for a analog to digital i guess I'll just have to suck it up and pay the money but it's hard to do when you can find pc compatible ones going for $40 on amazon:(

    I like the idea of the tv converter too, I'll go and check the prices for them but that could be an option
     
  8. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #8
    I haven't used the Blackmagic USB thing you linked to so I can't comment on it. H.264 can be a very nice looking codec, but if you ever want to edit the videos you'll need to transcode them into something else and that will take time and degrade the image quality. Anything that is USB based isn't going to be able to match the image quality and flexibility of copying to VHS tapes into the DV format.


    Lethal
     
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #9
    No, artefacts are additive. Each stage makes it worse. What you are saying isthat the quality is alrady so bad that a trip through a DVD wil not make it much worse. That's true.

    The best way to go is to connect the VHS player to a Mini DV camera but then you'd need FW to get the data off the DV camera.
     
  10. fishniw thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    What if I just bought a used mac mini, used the display on my macbook? That way I could have access to the firewire port.
     
  11. robanga macrumors 68000

    robanga

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    #11
    I do not believe you can drive the display of your MB with a Mini, at least via any reasonable means. Your really do not have any video in options on the MB other than USB.
     
  12. fishniw thread starter macrumors regular

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    #12
    yeah, just wishful thinking. I can't believe there isn't really a good workaround to using usb. Surely, Apple will have to solve this problem eventually if they are going to be moving away from firewire
     
  13. robanga macrumors 68000

    robanga

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    #13
    A thought occurred to me that you could essentially " screen share" to a Mac Mini and do your work via the MB from there. You are still going to need to borrow another an external display to set up the Mini though and ultimately maintain it etc. Also you would be essentially working on the mini anyways :) at that point.
     
  14. fishniw thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
    I had thought about that. It would be easy to borrow an external from someone. Tell me if this sounds good...

    1.Buy either the PowerPC G4 or early intel mini (can get for under 200)
    2. Install leopard with the cd that came with my macbook for screen sharing capabilites
    3. Install iLife 08 that came with Macbook in order to use iMovie 08 for editing
    4. Good to go?
     
  15. Rizvi1 macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    This is an interesting thread. I've been wanting to convert a lot of VHS footage for electronic storage (no need to put on DVD as playable, rather back up raw footage to DVD for archiving purposes). I do have the luxury of Firewire so I think I have some more options. But this is a nice read to see why some approaches are better than others.
     
  16. FrankieTDouglas macrumors 65816

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    #16
    You should also send this situation to Apple. Let them know how their decision to drop firewire is affecting you.
     
  17. robanga macrumors 68000

    robanga

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    #17
    It would seem to me that the only option Firewire gives you is to first record the VHS tapes to a DV camera (tape based) and then capture it on a Firewire Mac. That does not seem easier than using a USB based capture device at all. Perhaps the quality is better? Still it seems a fair amount of commitment to capture video
     
  18. fishniw thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 29, 2008
    #18
    yeah i guess your right, unless they make firewire vhs players, which I don't think I've ever seen one before. I think I'll just have to suck it up and get the usb device. I'm really not that knowledgeable in this area to know if or why firewire would be higher quality but I do know that usb is going to be deathly slow compared to it.
     
  19. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #19
    JVC used to make DV/VHS combo decks for the prosumer market, but now I think they are all DV/DVD combo decks.

    Long story short, FW and USB are just pipelines for data but FW offers a bigger, faster pipe so it can accommodate the streaming of higher quality media than USB.


    Lethal
     
  20. corywoolf macrumors 65816

    corywoolf

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    #20
    No, you can use the camcorder as an Analog to Digital pass through directly into FCP via the "Uncontrollable Device" option in the capture settings. Most consumer camcorders have this ability. Any Sony or Canon will have it for sure. Not that this would effect the OP's situation, but I figured some others might benefit from this ability.
     
  21. robanga macrumors 68000

    robanga

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    #21
    Ah yes indeed I had forgot about the pass through option. It has been a while since I used a tape camera, as a matter of fact the last one in the house was sold on ebay today.
     
  22. fishniw thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 29, 2008
    #22
    I think I'm going to buy the Elgato Eye TV. The blackmagic one is projected to be released sometime next year and I would rather not wait. It seems that the Elgato is the cheapest analog to dv converter that uses USB. If it's not please let me know, I've searched everywhere.
     
  23. rwskemer macrumors regular

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    Feb 18, 2008
    #23
    The newer HD cameras no longer have the analog inputs that you'd connect to a VCR right? I'm in the same boat except I have the new MBP. I want to take my old VCR tapes and get them on the MBP. Is the elgato my only choice? I was looking through tons of threads trying to find the best converter box. Any suggestions? I kept reading about the DAC-100 and DAC-200 but they don't make those boxes anymore...
     
  24. fishniw thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 29, 2008
    #24
    The new pro has firewire so you definitely have more options than I do
     
  25. robanga macrumors 68000

    robanga

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    #25
    Yes - I believe that is correct. I'd say either the Elgato or the Hauppague (see links above ) I've purchased the latter's windows stuff before and its always worked well and everyone I have ever conversed with speaks highly of the Elgato.
     

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